Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Travis Knight|
|Written by||Christina Hodson|
|Music by||Dario Marianelli|
|Edited by||Paul Rubell|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$413.7 million|
Bumblebee is a 2018 American science fiction action film centered around the Transformers character of the same name. It is the sixth installment of the live-action Transformers film series and a prequel to 2007's Transformers. Directed by Travis Knight in his first live action film and written by Christina Hodson, the film stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, and Pamela Adlon, with Dylan O'Brien, Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux, and Peter Cullen in voice roles. It is the first live-action Transformers film not to be directed by Michael Bay, though he still produced. Principal photography on the film began on July 31, 2017, in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.
Bumblebee premiered in Berlin on December 3, 2018, was theatrically released in the United States on December 21, 2018, and has grossed over $413 million worldwide. The film received positive reviews from critics, who praised the action and Steinfeld's performance, as well as the 1980s setting and sense of nostalgia, with many calling it the best installment of the Transformers franchise.
On Cybertron, the Autobot resistance, led by Optimus Prime, are on the verge of losing the civil war with the Decepticons and prepare to evacuate the planet. A Decepticon force, led by Soundwave and Shockwave, intercept them during the evacuation, and Optimus sends Autobot scout B-127 to Earth on an escape pod in order to set up a base of operations where the Autobots can regroup.
In 1987, B-127 reaches Earth alone, crash-landing in California and disrupting a training exercise by Sector 7, a secret government agency that monitors extraterrestrial activity on Earth. Colonel Jack Burns presumes B-127 to be a hostile invader and attacks him. B-127 scans a Willys MB Jeep and flees into the forest, where the Decepticon Blitzwing ambushes him. When B-127 refuses to reveal Optimus's whereabouts, Blitzwing tears out his voice box and damages his memory core; despite this, B-127 kills Blitzwing with one of his own missiles. Before collapsing from his injuries, B-127 scans a nearby 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.
Meanwhile, teenage girl Charlie Watson remains traumatized by the death of her father, and resentful of her mother Sally for remarrying. Charlie finds a yellow Volkswagen Beetle in a scrap yard belonging to Hank, who gives it to her as an 18th birthday present. When trying to start it, Charlie unknowingly activates a homing signal that is detected by Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick as they interrogate and execute the Autobot Cliffjumper on one of Saturn's moons. The pair head to Earth where they gain Earth vehicle forms and pretend to be peacekeepers, persuading Dr. Powell and Sector 7, despite Burns' misgivings, to help them find and capture B-127, whom they claim is a fugitive.
While Charlie attempts to fix the Beetle, it transforms into B-127, whom she befriends and nicknames "Bumblebee". They unlock a message from Optimus urging Bumblebee to defend Earth in their absence, which restores some of his memories. Bumblebee is discovered by Charlie's neighbor Memo, who agrees to protect their secret due to his feelings for Charlie. Left alone, Bumblebee accidentally destroys Charlie’s home and causes an energy spike that attracts Sector 7’s attention. When Sally blames Charlie for the destruction, Charlie angrily leaves with Bumblebee and Memo, only to be intercepted by Sector 7 and the Decepticons. Bumblebee is captured while Charlie and Memo are returned home. Charlie finally expresses her pain over her father’s death and makes amends with her brother Otis, who helps Charlie follow Burns to the Sector 7 outpost where Bumblebee is being held. Shatter and Dropkick torture Bumblebee into revealing the Autobots’ whereabouts, discovering that the Autobots are coming to Earth. They leave him for dead after revealing their plan to bring the Decepticons to Earth. After alerting Burns to the truth about the Decepticons, Dr. Powell is killed by Dropkick.
Charlie electro-shocks Bumblebee back to life, restoring his memories. After fighting past Burns' obstruction and attempt to re-secure Bumblebee with the help of Memo and Charlie's family, Charlie and Bumblebee set out to prevent Shatter and Dropkick from contacting the Decepticons using a radio tower at a nearby harbor. Burns and his men also intervene, but their helicopter is shot down by the Decepticons, but is saved by Bumblebee. While Bumblebee rips Dropkick apart with a chain, Charlie deactivates the Decepticon beacon, causing an enraged Shatter to pursue her. Bumblebee destroys a dam wall, triggering a flood that causes a cargo ship to crush Shatter. Burns, having a change of heart, allows Charlie and Bumblebee time to escape before the army arrives.
Charlie and Bumblebee arrive on a cliff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, where Charlie, realizing that Bumblebee has a greater purpose on Earth, says goodbye, and returns to her family. Bumblebee scans a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro and drives away.
Bumblebee reunites with Optimus Prime in a forest, and has decided to use Bumblebee as his name instead of B-127. More Autobots start to arrive through Earth's atmosphere. Charlie finally finishes repairing a Corvette she and her father were working on, and drives off into the sunset.
- Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie Watson, a feisty and kindly teen who finds and befriends Bumblebee.
- John Cena as Jack Burns, a former U.S Army Ranger lieutenant and agent of Sector 7.
- Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Memo, Charlie's neighbor.
- John Ortiz as Dr. Powell, an agent of Sector 7.
- Jason Drucker as Otis Watson, Charlie's younger brother.
- Pamela Adlon as Sally Watson, Charlie and Otis's mother.
- Stephen Schneider as Ron, Charlie's stepfather.
- Glynn Turman as General Whalen, Burns's superior at Sector 7.
- Len Cariou as Hank, the owner of a junkyard where Charlie sources car parts.
- Gracie Dzienny as Tina, Charlie's mean-spirited classmate.
- Ricardo Hoyos as Tripp Summers, Charlie's classmate and Tina's boyfriend.
- Fred Dryer as Sheriff Lock, a sheriff who enters into a high-speed chase with Charlie and Bumblebee.
- Lenny Jacobson as Roy, a trailer park resident killed by the Decepticons.
- Megyn Price as Amber, Roy's girlfriend.
- Nick Pilla as Seymour Simmons, an agent of Sector 7. John Turturro portrayed an older version of the character in previous live-action Transformers films.
- Edwin Hodge as Danny, an agent of Sector 7.
- Tim Martin Gleason as Charlie's father, who died of a heart attack.
- Dylan O'Brien as the voice of Bumblebee, a young Autobot scout who transforms into a yellow Willys MB jeep, before switching for a rusty yellow 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, and eventually a yellow and black 1977 Chevrolet Camaro.
- Angela Bassett as the voice of Shatter, a Decepticon triple-changer who transforms into a red Plymouth GTX and a Harrier Jump Jet.
- Justin Theroux as the voice of Dropkick, a Decepticon triple-changer who transforms into a blue AMC Javelin and a Bell AH-1 SuperCobra.
- Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobot resistance, who transforms into a scarlet 1977 Freightliner semi truck.
- David Sobolov as the voice of Blitzwing, a Decepticon who transforms into a red/white McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and is responsible for damaging Bumblebee's voice box.
- Grey Griffin as the voice of Arcee, a female Autobot in charge of keeping contact with the capital. Griffin reprises her role from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
- Steve Blum as the voice of Wheeljack, an Autobot scientist. He was previously voiced by George Coe, in Dark of the Moon.
- Andrew Morgado as the voice of Cliffjumper, one of Bumblebee's fellow scouts who is killed by Dropkick on the Moons of Saturn.
- Jon Bailey as the voices of:
- Kirk Baily as the voices of:
- Dennis Singletary as the voice of Ratchet, an Autobot medic. He was previously voiced by Robert Foxworth in the first four films.
Transformers who appear in non-speaking roles include: Ironhide, the second-in-command of the Autobot resistance on Cybertron, Starscream, the second-in-command of the Decepticons and a Seeker, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Dirge, and Teletraan 1, who appears as one of the computers on the launchpad tower.
On February 12, 2016, it was announced that the sixth film in the Transformers series, Transformers 6, was slated for release on June 8, 2018, and it was later revealed that the film would be an untitled spin-off, featuring Bumblebee. On November 11, 2016, Deadline reported that Paramount Pictures was moving forward with the project, with Christina Hodson announced as having written the script for the spin-off; Hodson was one of the female writers Paramount and Michael Bay had hired for the series' "writers room." It was later revealed that Kelly Fremon Craig had performed a rewrite of the script, but was ultimately not credited in the final product. On March 2, 2017, Deadline reported that Travis Knight was set to direct the film. In May 2017, it was revealed that the film's story would be set in the 1980s, and that it would feature fewer robots. In the same month, it was announced that the film's title was then Transformers Universe: Bumblebee.
In May 2017, it was reported that Hailee Steinfeld was in talks for the female lead in the film, and she confirmed her involvement later in June. On July 11, 2017, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. joined the cast as the male lead. On July 12, 2017, The Tracking Board reported that Rachel Crow had been cast as well, though she did not appear in the finished film. The following day, more core cast were announced, including Jason Drucker, Abby Quinn, Ricardo Hoyos and Gracie Dzienny, though Quinn ultimately did not appear in the film. On July 22, 2017, it was reported that Pamela Adlon had been cast to play Steinfeld's character's mother. On July 31, 2017, John Cena was added as a lead, with Kenneth Choi and Stephen Schneider set for supporting roles, though Choi did not appear in the final cut. On October 2, 2017, in an interview promoting the home media release of Transformers: The Last Knight, Peter Cullen revealed he would reprise his role of Optimus Prime in the film. On December 11, 2017, it was rumored that actor Martin Short had joined the film's voice roster, and on May 31, 2018, Jess Harnell revealed he would reprise his role as the voice of Barricade from the 2007 film and The Last Knight, though neither actor was ultimately credited in the film.
On July 13, 2018, it was announced that Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux would be voicing a pair of new Decepticons, respectively called Shatter and Dropkick, the main antagonists of the film. On August 26, 2018, voice actor David Sobolov, who had previously voiced Depth Charge in Beast Wars: Transformers, Brawl in the 2007 video game, and Shockwave in Transformers: Prime, confirmed he would voice Blitzwing. On December 3, 2018, Lorenzo di Bonaventura revealed to IGN that Dylan O'Brien would voice Bumblebee. On December 9, 2018, about a week before the film's release, voice actress Grey Griffin stated at a special fan screening that she is reprising her role as Arcee from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. On the same day, voice actor and long-time Transformers fan Jon Bailey also detailed that he voiced both Shockwave and Soundwave in the film, both of which were previously voiced by Frank Welker, in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Principal photography on the film began on July 31, 2017, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Vallejo, and Mare Island, California, and was scheduled to finish on November 16, 2017, under the working title Brighton Falls. Filming concluded six days ahead of schedule, on November 10, 2017.
Later in November 2017, the film was revealed to have changed its title to Bumblebee: The Movie (later being called simply Bumblebee), as well as having wrapped up filming.
Dario Marianelli provided the music score for the film, making this the first time Steve Jablonsky has not scored one of the films in the franchise. Hailee Steinfeld's single "Back to Life", from the soundtrack, was released on November 2, 2018.
Bumblebee was released in the United States on December 21, 2018, by Paramount Pictures. The film is available in 2D and RealD 3D formats. The date had initially been set for June 8, 2018. The first trailer was released on June 5, 2018, and two new trailers, including an international trailer, on September 24, 2018. The international trailer showed that Bumblebee was disguised into an old Jeep Wrangler before he became a Volkswagen Beetle. The film held its premiere at the Sony Center in Berlin on December 3, 2018.
On November 21, 2018, Paramount announced it would hold one-day previews for the film on Saturday, December 8, 2018, similar to the promotions Amazon Prime and Sony Pictures ran with the films Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and to fellow December 2018 release Aquaman.
As of January 21, 2019[update], Bumblebee has grossed $117.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $296.4 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $413.7 million, against a production budget of around $135 million.
In the United States and Canada, Bumblebee was released alongside Aquaman, Welcome to Marwen, and Second Act, and was projected to gross $20–25 million in its opening weekend, and $35–40 million over its first five days. Prior to its release, the film made about $500,000 at 325 theaters from its December 8 screenings, an "impressive" average of $1,500 per venue. The film made $8.5 million on its first day, including $2.15 million from Thursday night previews (a total of $2.85 million including the early screenings). It went on to debut to $21 million, finishing third, behind Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns. It then grossed $3.8 million on Monday and $8.9 million on Christmas Day, for a five-day total of $34.2 million. In its second weekend, the film made $20.5 million, dropping 5% and remaining in third, and then earned $12.8 million in its third weekend, finishing fifth.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 211 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The website's critical consensus read, "Bumblebee proves it's possible to bring fun and a sense of wonder back to a bloated blockbuster franchise -- and sets up its own slate of sequels in the bargain." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". It is the highest-rated Transformers film on both websites. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an 85% overall positive score and a 68% "definite recommend".
Liz Shannon Miller of IndieWire gave the film a "B+" and wrote, "...there are many scenes where giant robots fight each other, and in those scenes, you can actually see what's happening. The Autobots and Decepticons toss each other around with slick judo-like moves and blast each other with abandon, and the cinematography and editing hold still long enough to let you enjoy each moment." Peter Debruge of Variety called the film a "quieter, more character-driven Transformers origin story" and wrote that "Bumblebee is basically the movie that fans of the 1980s animated series wanted all along."
Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club praised Hailee Steinfeld, saying, "her screen presence is the best thing about Bumblebee". He compared the film to The Iron Giant, but while finding many improvements over other Transformers films, Hassenger called the film "disappointing in the end, because it's still a careless stretch of blockbusting", giving it a "C+".
In December 2018, due to the success of Bumblebee, Di Bonaventura stated that there would be further films in the series, and acknowledged that the franchise will make some changes in tone and style, inspired by the solo movie.
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